Sport Bulega fastest on wet Friday in Japan as Mir struggles

09:25  13 october  2017
09:25  13 october  2017 Source:   Read Sport

Bulega beats Antonelli for first pole since early 2016

  Bulega beats Antonelli for first pole since early 2016 Nicolo Bulega stormed to his first Moto3 pole since Jerez 2016 after beating Niccolo Antonelli to top spot in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at a damp Motegi. Aspar Mahindra’s Albert Arenas set the early benchmark pace with a 2m12.654s, and improved to a 2m12.102s on his second flying lap. Friday pacesetter Bulega soon took over at the top of the timesheets from the Spaniard with a 2m11.727s, though Arenas responded immediately with a 2m11.261s to retake provisional pole. With 16 minutes left on the clock, EstrellaGalicia0,0 Honda’s Aron Canet shot to the top of the pile with a 2m10.658s. Keen to to reclaim top spot from the Spaniard, Arenas pushed too hard exiting the final corner and crashed. Bulega showed strong pace in this morning’s third practice session, but continually squandered his best laps with a poor final sector. The Italian learned from his mistakes, however, and stormed back to the head of the field in the final six minutes with a 2m09.933s, while cementing his first pole since the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix with a 2m09.688s on his follow up lap. Canet came close to denying the Sky VR46KTM rider on his final lap, but Bulega put in one final effort of 2m09.320s to go almost three tenths clear of the field, while Antonelli stole second at the flag for his first front row start since Barcelona 2016. CIP Mahindra’s Marco Bezzecchi took his best-ever qualifying result with fourth ahead of EneaBastianini and Romano Fenati, who briefly led proceedings at Motegi.

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NicoloBulega ended a soaking Friday at Motegi fastest of all, while world champion elect Joan Mir struggled for pace.

The 2.98-mileMotegi circuit was left saturated by heavy overnight rain when the first 40-minute session go underway this morning.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport

This did not deter the Sky VR46 duo, however, with Bulega and team-mate Andrea Migno riding in formation for the duration of the session.

A 2m09.577s from Bulega put him 0.128 seconds clear of Migno at the chequered flag, while Romano Fenati – who is gunning for his first podium finish at Motegi this weekend – completing the top three on the combined times.

Fenati cruises to win at wet Motegi as Mir struggles

  Fenati cruises to win at wet Motegi as Mir struggles Romano Fenati became the most successful rider in Moto3 history after romping to his 10th career win at a rain–lashedMotegi, as Joan Mir finished outside of the points. The race was run over a shortened 13–lap distance after a lengthy delay in morning warm-up, caused by an oil spill from Andrea Migno’s Sky VR46KTM. It was Fenati‘s countryman and pole man NicoloBulega who took the holeshot as the race got underway, though soon found himself dropping out of the top 10 as Niccolo Antonelli hit the front. Behind, championship leader Mir – who could have wrapped up the Moto3 title today – struggled to make any impression on the top 20 from 20th on the grid in the treacherous conditions. At the end of the second lap, Antonelli and Fenati had started to pull away from the rest of the field, with the Rivacold Snipers rider taking the lead at Turn 7 on lap three. Antonelli tried his best to cling onto Fenati‘s coat tails but, as he did last month in similar conditions at Misano, Fenati eased into the distance while the Red Bull KTM rider steadily dropped into the clutched of the chasing Marco Bezzecchi and Tatsuki Suzuki. As the rain intensified over the final few laps, Fenati‘s lead only increased and he cruised across the line to secure his third win of the season by a margin of almost five seconds.

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Fenati put in a late effort of 2m10.628s to top the standings in the afternoon session, though improvements in laptime from the first session were few and far between in second practice despite the slightly better conditions.

Red Bull KTMAjo’s Niccolo Antonelli enjoyed a strong Friday. The Italian – who has not scored a top six finish in over a year – was just 0.006s shy of Fenati‘s time in the afternoon having led the session for a time, and this moved him up to fifth on the combined times.

Aron Canet slotted into fourth on his EstrellaGalicia0,0 Honda in both session, with CIPMahindra’s Manuel Pagliani sixth fastest ahead of Adam Norrodin, who crashed at the final corner in the opening stages of second practice.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport

NakarinAtiratphuvapat has proven to be a wet weather specialist this season on his Team Asia Honda, and the Thai rider continued to impress in the treacherous conditions with the ninth fastest time of the day ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki.

Fenati cruises to win at wet Motegi as Mir struggles

  Fenati cruises to win at wet Motegi as Mir struggles Romano Fenati became the most successful rider in Moto3 history after romping to his 10th career win at a rain–lashedMotegi, as Joan Mir finished outside of the points. The race was run over a shortened 13–lap distance after a lengthy delay in morning warm-up, caused by an oil spill from Andrea Migno’s Sky VR46KTM. It was Fenati‘s countryman and pole man NicoloBulega who took the holeshot as the race got underway, though soon found himself dropping out of the top 10 as Niccolo Antonelli hit the front. Behind, championship leader Mir – who could have wrapped up the Moto3 title today – struggled to make any impression on the top 20 from 20th on the grid in the treacherous conditions. At the end of the second lap, Antonelli and Fenati had started to pull away from the rest of the field, with the Rivacold Snipers rider taking the lead at Turn 7 on lap three. Antonelli tried his best to cling onto Fenati‘s coat tails but, as he did last month in similar conditions at Misano, Fenati eased into the distance while the Red Bull KTM rider steadily dropped into the clutched of the chasing Marco Bezzecchi and Tatsuki Suzuki. As the rain intensified over the final few laps, Fenati‘s lead only increased and he cruised across the line to secure his third win of the season by a margin of almost five seconds.

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BoBendsneyder was shuffled back to 11th on the combined standings after a nightmare afternoon session, in which the Dutch rider crashed twice at Turn 5 – his first a lowside on his outlap, with the second a highside in the closing stages.

AyumuSasaki was 12th on the combined timesheets after a fall at Turn 3 at the end of the second session, with Albert Arenas improving to 13th in the afternoon ahead of EneaBastianini and John McPhee, who also suffered a late tumble.

The big shock of the day came in the form of championship leader Joan Mir, who was 2.5s off the pace down in 17th on the combined times.

Off the pace in both sessions, Mir – who can clinch the Moto3 title this weekend after taking an 80-point lead at Aragon – also took a rare trip into the gravel trap when he crashed at Turn 3 with six minutes to go.

MotoGP of San Marino - Qualifying © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport MotoGP of San Marino - Qualifying

Vettel: 'extra risk' in qualifying didn't pay off .
Sebastian Vettel admitted he took “a bit more risk” on his final qualifying lap at Suzuka, knowing Valtteri Bottas wasn’t going to threaten a potential front row slot. The German managed to set the third fastest time in the session, but due to a gearbox penalty for Bottas, Vettel will start alongside pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the front row on Sunday. Vettel, a four-time winner of the Japanese Grand Prix, is looking to cut the 34-point gap in the drivers’ championship, but the multiple world champion feels the prancing horse has lacked a bit of performance compared with Mercedes. “In the last run in Q3 I tried a bit more than there was,” he said. “Valtteri wasn’t a threat, so I took a bit more risk, but it didn’t work. “Still, I am happy with third and the front row tomorrow, the starts lately have been quite good. The car balance is getting better and better. “We are lacking a bit of performance but the car should be a bit better in the race.” Despite the gap in qualifying trim, Vettel remains optimistic of a stronger showing for Ferrari in the race but concedes Mercedes is back to its normal performance after a below par weekend in Malaysia. “I don’t know which sort of pace they will have,” Vettel added. “They are a bit up and down, last week they weren’t very quick, this race back to normal. “For us normally we are a bit stronger in the race compared to qualifying, so we get together and see what we can do at the start and during the race.

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